Archives for posts with tag: bugs

Please watch and share Season 2, Episode 1 of “Late Bloomer,” “Planting the Winter Garden.” Featuring the original guitar composition of “Late Bloomer’s” new composer, guitar man Jon Pileggi. I’m very excited to add Jon to our lean and creative Late Bloomer team!

I’ve been busy planting a garden, making Late Bloomer episodes, creating an e-book “The Late Bloomer Show’s 10 Steps for a Great, First Garden,” redoing my website, and dealing with my sprained ankle and all the other stuff of life. Sorry I haven’t been blogging lately, but I will get back to it very soon! Are you able to grow food in the winter? Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

P.S. Did you watch the Super Bowl? My American Airlines commercial ran during the game. I play a waitress. I’d love to know if you see it. Thanks!

I have so much to do, I don’t know where to start. I’m getting a little overwhelmed. Spraining the ankle on New Year’s Day didn’t help me get off to the roaring start I’d planned.

I took a cup of tea out to the garden at noon to evaluate and meditate. It’s amazing what happens when you just stop. And observe. I wasn’t sitting for more than a couple of minutes when neighbor C.L. grabbed his cane and rambled over. As he chatted a bit, I spotted a wandering Monarch caterpillar four feet away on the driveway. When they wander away from the milkweed plant, if they are full-size (fifth instar), that means they are looking for a good spot for their chrysalis. I like to keep track of them, so I will know when the butterflies emerge. I moved this one back to the lone milkweed plant 12 feet away, and it got interested in eating again.

I’ve lost a few cats, and the cold and wind has been brutal for them. I’ve had no luck relocating them inside, or outside, to what I consider a good spot for a chrysalis. They have a mind of their own. This one died while shedding its skin to form its chrysalis. I had just watered the carrot barrels right beside it, and it is wet. I hope I did not kill it.

Dead Monarch Caterpilla

Dead Monarch Caterpillar Shedding Skin for Becoming Chrysalis

Today it is 63 degrees. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 73, and 75 degrees on the weekend. It has been in the 50’s during the day and dipping in the low 40’s at night. With wind. This makes a tough go for Monarch caterpillars. I have chrysalises that are not mature after almost two months!

I sat back down and mused about how fast some veggies grow, while others take much longer. Most of my winter garden was planted early to mid-November. Radishes and lettuce and one barrel of baby finger carrots are mature, while it will be another month or two for kale, cauliflower and cabbage, a couple of weeks more for Swiss Chard.

Little Finger Carrots

Baby Little Finger Organic Carrots

Green Kale

Winter Bor Green Kale

Green Cabbage Seedling

Copenhagen Market Green Organic Cabbage

I could harvest beet tops right now while they are tender, but I’m more interested in the beet root, which will be awhile. It’s so hard to say with the wild fluctuations in weather.

Beet Greens

Beet Tops

I could make a big salad right now of spinach, arugula and red deer tongue lettuce. But, that would clean me out. I have about two big salads worth of greens out there.

Spinach Grown in a Pot

Spinach Leaves

Deer Tongue Lettuce Leaves

Red Deer Tongue Lettuce

So, Monday, I planted more lettuce, this time, organic Romaine. That’s a small row of snap peas behind it.

Freshly Planted Garden Row

Row of Freshly Planted Romaine Lettuce

Nasturtiums have self-seeded through my beds, so I pull them out when they start getting in the way. I opened the driveway gate to drop a few in the green bin, and spotted this tiny, metallic blue beetle on the gate key pad. It looks like a drop of metallic blue paint, no more than 1/8 of an inch across. But, this one had a problem, and was opening the wings over and over to get them all folded back under the blue helmet. A little piece was sticking out. It scurried across a leaf and my hand. Since I’m a beginning gardener, everything is new to me (I had seen one last year), so I assumed it was common. After I shot video and took a few shots, I relocated it to a rose leaf.

Tiny blue beetle with broken wing.

Ladybird Beetle, Halmus chalybeus, family Coccinellidae

I sat back down and drank from my cup. Postponing the inevitable return to my office to work. I have so much to do, I don’t know where to start. So, I sipped a bit longer. Then, I came inside, and sent the beetle photo to Dr. James Hogue, Professor & Manager of Biological Collections at Cal State Northridge, in charge of their 60,000 insect specimen collection. He immediately responded:

“It looks like this is a ladybird beetle called Halmus chalybeus, family Coccinellidae. It was introduced from Australia over 100 years ago for bio-control of scale insects. I had not seen this beetle before, nor do we have any in our collection. If you run across one again, it would be a good catch that I would like for our schools collection.

The hard blue things are its first pair of wings that, in beetles, are modified as covers for the more delicate hind wings that are used for flying. These covers are called elytra.”

WHAT??? IT WAS IN MY HAND!! And I let it go. I ran back outside and searched, but it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. It was in my hand!! I’m kicking myself. I really missed my calling. I should have been an entomologist, instead of an actress!

Thanks for stopping by! What bugs are you finding in your garden? – Kaye

My tomato episode is online, and I would love for you to watch it and share with friends. It was a long time coming, because, I kept waiting for my tomatoes to finish for this season, but, it’s November 3, and I’ve still got tomatoes growing! Click here, or for better quality, watch on YouTube.

I grow tomatoes for the first time in my first ever, organic urban front yard garden, with guest, James Kenney, wildlife photographer and expert tomato grower! And Linden the Cat makes an appearance.

Thanks for watching! – Kaye

It’s been five days since my last post, and eight days since the onset of a doozy of a chest cold. I’ve spent no more than an hour in the garden any day for the last week, not enough! Three days ago, my zucchini plant looked great with several fresh new leaves, blooms and zucchinis growing. However, when I looked out on Friday, it was wilted. Since it has not been that hot, I was worried. I posted this photo on my Facebook page on Friday.

Witted Zucchini

Witted Zucchini on Friday

The other vine, coming from the same plant, looked fine.

Zucchini Wilt on One Vine

Zucchini Wilt on One Vine

I had recently been treating the powdery mildew with 10% milk in water solution, and it seemed to be doing well. But, I also added some compost around the base and changed the watering a bit. There is such a thing as water wilt, but, it should have perked back up by the next day. Today, it looked worse.

Zucchini Bacterial Wilt

Zucchini Bacterial Wilt

Though I never saw one in my garden, striped and spotted cucumber beetles are carriers of a bacterium (Erwinia tracheiphila) – it overwinters in their gut – and this bacterium will turn the vines to mush. It cannot be controlled with pesticides (which I wouldn’t use anyway). First the leaves wilt, then the developing squash turn to mush. When I lifted the vine to see what condition it was in, it easily came away in my hand. The whole middle was mush. I read that, first, one vine gets hit and then it spreads. The only thing to do is get rid of the whole plant. Which I did.

Zucchini Vine with Bacterial Wilt

Zucchini Vine with Bacterial Wilt

It was a shame, because I had a lot of fresh leaves and blooms opening. I love this sight!

Young Zucchini Leaves

Young Zucchini Leaves

I cut off all the developing zucchinis and juiced them. This was the last of my illustrious zucchini made famous in “Zucchini Madness,” the 17th episode of “Late Bloomer!

The Last Zucchini Harvest

The Last Zucchini Harvest

I’m sad to see my zucchini go, and truthfully, I don’t know if I will try zucchini again next year, because it requires a lot of space, and is so susceptible to powdery mildew where we live. But, February is a long way off, so I shall see how I feel then. Thanks for stopping by!

Please visit my Facebook page for tons of interesting articles related to gardening, farming, raw foods, all over the world. I am encouraging a world-wide audience for “Late Bloomer.” (Unfortunately, I can only speak and write English!) – Kaye

I  just planted celery seedlings in the parkway where my corn was. I read in “Golden Gate Gardening” that celery would like to be planted in pure compost if it can get it, so I obliged with a whole bag of biodynamic compost between six seedlings. It also needs a lot of fertilizer, so I mixed up 4 cup worm castings, 2 cups organic vegetable fertilizer, and 1/2 cup citrus fertilizer (because celery likes slightly acidic soil as do citrus trees). I sunk each seedling in a pile of compost in the middle of the crater, spread the fertilizer around each, watered deeply, then covered in compost.

Was I deterred by the fact that the book said celery is a demanding vegetable? Heck, no! Celery needs to be kept moist all the time, so I figured I plant them right beside my neighbor’s sprinklers which overspray about two feet into my garden bed, so it will get an additional watering every day! Just as I was scooping in some compost, a huge, green beetle flew right by my face and plopped on the mound of compost and started burrowing in the wet soil. I ran for my camera and it was buried when I got back in less than a minute. I uncovered it, and took a couple of shots as it was madly burrowing back in.

I didn’t know if this inch-long, bejeweled creature was friend or foe, so I captured it in a jar and ran to the internet. There are tons of great photos of emerald green beetles, but this one happens to be a Fig Beetle. They will dive bomb right at you, and suck juice out of figs. There are no fig trees around here, so I’m guessing, according to a post I read on Encino 411, that the beetle larvae metamorphosed in the compost and opening the bag set it free. (Then, I captured it again, oops.) Not sure what I should do with it now.

The parkway is coming together nicely. I planted milkweed and yarrow along the curb where the sunflowers were. I’ve still got two Japanese melon, one Japanese cucumber, and the Patty Pan squash, and now the celery.

There’s room for a couple more plants. Since this is my best sun, I’m going to pop in the two ‘Stupice’ heirloom tomato seedlings I bought yesterday. This variety, I was told, came from the Czech Republic, and has a short growing season, can take a milder climate, and that I could still get tomatoes this year. So, I’m giving it a shot.

Thanks for dropping by! Have a great Sunday! – Kaye

I started at seven A.M, hand-watering. When it’s quiet out, and you take a good look at how things are in the garden, you get drawn in. First, I tidied up my tomato and watermelon vines (it seems there’s more of that to do every day now with the summer winding down), then I lopped off the milkweed pods before those fuzzy things are everywhere attempting to reseed. When I moved from the planted Cinderella Weed to the Tropical Milkweed in pots, still waiting to be planted (today!), I noticed the pods on one plant were covered in aphids. Aphids come in different colors, by the way.

If I understood the life cycle of the aphid better, I’d know what is going on in this photo. The yellow (presumably larvae) weren’t really moving much, and there are these little white bugs emerging. If those were parasitic wasps coming out of them, it would be awesome, but I don’t know if I got that lucky. Probably it’s just the mature aphid. I lopped off these pods and put them in the garbage. I know I never saw a Monarch butterfly come in my yard, so they haven’t found my milkweed, yet.

Then, there’s this. I stuck a Hass Avocado pit in a seed cup months ago and left it in the kitchen and watered it when I thought of it, which wasn’t often, and it never did anything, then, about a month ago, I moved it to the windowsill on the front porch, where it gets some morning light, and regular watering. Look what is emerging! I asked C.L. who knows a thing or two about avocados, and he said if I plant it in the hot sun right now, it could burn it. So, this is one of those garden decisions that needs to be made, where and when to plant it. I would REALLY like my own avocado tree, but I have so little space!

Checking in with my emerging carrot sprouts in one barrel, which were looking good, I decided it was time to get the other barrel replanted in carrot seed after the radish-carrot experiment failed.

I used the planting lettuce method in Late Bloomer – Episode 7 that I used in the barrel of carrots above.

Linden decided to join me, and roll on the warm bricks. Yes, she has blue eyes.

What a show-off. She knew I was shooting her picture! Doesn’t she look just like Louis’ cat in episode 5 of “Suits”??

Okay, one more turn, and back to the business of gardening.

While we were on a roll :), I also planted Arugula in this pot. Same method. I keep them out of the sun till they sprout, so I can keep them wet. The sun will dry out the towel in an hour or two. Carrot seed must stay wet to germinate, which can take weeks! Arugula will sprout within a week.

Thanks for stopping by! Leave me a comment, advice welcome! – Kaye

Is this some insect, nutritional defect, or fungus? Or, some alien hieroglyphic that I need to interpret? Whatever, it seems to be all over my garden. Cucumber 1 (Bushy):

Cucumber 2 (A&C Pickling):

Cucumber 3 (Japanese Climbing):

Japanese Melon:

Patty Pan Squash:

Yellow and Green Bean:

Even the Nasturtium!

These plants are in different soils in different areas, albeit a few feet to three yards away from one another. I pulled out the bean plant as it just looked awful. I gave plant food and more watering for the cucumbers and melon and the newer leaves look better, and I cut off a ton of squash leaves, most of which were covered in white spotty mold. Your advice is welcome! Thanks for reading. – Kaye

Kaye visits organic, sustainable Wild Farm in Woodside, California on a windy day in late June, 2012. Owners, and master gardeners, sisters Lisa and Kathleen Putnam give Kaye a fast-paced tour of their large, family farm. Please watch here, or high quality on YouTube.

“Maxine the Chicken,” set to motion by Late Bloomer motion graphics wizard, Mika Tanisaki, makes her first appearance at the end. Maxine lays a lot of eggs, but sometimes she gets a little distracted and loses track of an egg.

There’s no way to do justice to Wild Farm’s orchard, large gardens, chicken run, compost and bee operation in a short episode, and there were whole sections of the garden we didn’t get to, but what you see will inspire, as it did me!

Lisa said she hand-watered her garden for two years, and she recommends hand-watering especially for beginning gardeners, as you really connect with your garden that way. I am hand-watering, but my garden is tiny by comparison. She also said it’s not too late for late bloomers to be successful gardeners, and to think big, especially about your soil food web.

I also got to see one of the beneficial insects they attract with their insectiary, a hover fly, and Kathleen showed me a leaf full of live aphids,

and a leaf full of dead aphids that the beneficials had gotten to.

You’ll hear in the episode that July is the month for coastal climate gardeners (like me) to seed for fall crops, so I better get started! She also recommended a complete resource for coastal gardeners, Golden Gate Gardening by Pam Peirce, which I am happily reading. Thanks for watching, and please share! – Kaye

When my watermelon patch (about 6’x6″ with seven plants of baby watermelon) started showing fruit, I could count at least 50 little green balls emerging.  Now, it seems like things are amiss.

Several are misshapen. (I only have about ten round ones. I ate the first, and it was pretty good.)

Or shriveling up before they develop. There were four potential melons on this vine that dried up.

Could be inconsistent watering (I am rather stingy with water in water-strapped L.A.), or possibly a bug, though, I haven’t seen any.

Speaking of bugs, this metallic blue dome looked like a drop of liquid blue paint, till I got down beside it and could see legs. About half the size of a regular ladybug, it’s evidently a lady beetle as well. That’s my fingertip for scale.

I went to check the tag on my blueberries to see how long they produce (since I’m not getting any) and opened the tag to find this cabbage worm. It was already nestled in webbing in the folded card. I didn’t realize I was focusing on the back end.  Soon, it started moving from the other end. Sorry to disturb! You’ll see this worm in action in a future episode of “Late Bloomer.”

As I was capturing the cabbage worm, this critter ran up to see what was going on. I saw a photo like this on internet, but, it wasn’t identified. Know what it is? It was about a half inch long. It got away before I could squish it.

Some good news. Loads of tomatoes on the way.

Hundreds of cherry tomatoes, on my one plant.

Thanks for reading! – Kaye

I spent most of yesterday fussing over my tomatoes. I “didn’t get the memo” (from the movie “Batman Begins”) about pruning. As vines towered four feet over my head, I had to channel my inner contortionist to crawl into the jungle and clean up a big pile of limp or shriveled leaves and branches. That’s my hand sticking out (recreated today for effect, haha!). That’s my friend Lettuce (gone to flower) to the left of my hand, and a big clump of sage by my leg. Did I say, don’t plant things so close together?

My poor little orange tree (front, center) has been sandwiched on two sides by a Cherokee Purple Heirloom and a Brandywine. In protest, it has refused to produce a single orange. That’s the big set of vines on right that are leaning farther than the Tower of Pisa. You can see me planting these seedlings in March in Rainy Day in the Garden, episode 4 of “Late Bloomer.” If you don’t prune, I’ve learned, vines become bushy and heavy and those wire tomato cages collapse from the weight.

Recently, I spent a day pounding in stakes to keep them from falling all the way down. The promise of a couple hundred tomatoes urged me on. Here are three of the Cherokee Purple.

Another reason to prune is access. It is so much easier to spot problems. Until I crawled in there yesterday (I had been procrastinating the inevitable), I didn’t realize I had some problems with the Brandywine. My helper for really hard jobs, Rene, drove by and told me this was from a rat. He said squirrels and raccoons don’t like tomatoes.

I asked him if netting would help, and he said that would only keep my neighbors from picking a tomato as they pass on the sidewalk. I intend to hang a sign on the Brandywine, “If you would like a tomato, ring the bell.” I give away a squash almost every day. Next issue, remember those tomato trays in “Rainy Day?” I cut them to pieces and surgically removed them from the stems of my plants as they had overgrown the opening. And, guess what I found.

Slugs, one large and three small. I also found four snails hiding on the bottoms of various leaves. And this, which I suspect is a batch of spider eggs, but, what do I know?

And several rotten Brandywines (that was my only non-organic seedling), hmmmm.

And I’m not sure if this is bugs or disease.

But, the good news is my Green Zebra vines are looking good!

Some branches are really loaded. Which means I spent another hour tying up branches that were in danger of breaking.

I gave away a couple of Patty Pan squash, then rounded up my haul for yesterday.

My first baby watermelon, three different kinds of cucumber, a handful of beans and blackberries and a few tomatoes. The cucumbers, (left to right) A&C Pickling, Bushy, Japanese Climbing, were all a bit bitter and disappointing, even though they looked great on the vines.

The pickling cucumber leaves have taken to wilting in the sun, like the Patty Pan squash.

By evening, they have perked back up. So strange! I thought cucumbers loved the sun. I’m watering them every day, so, it’s not for lack of water, maybe too much?

It’s summer and so much is happening in the garden! Thanks for reading! – Kaye

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